1967 October 2

Thurgood Marshall Joins Supreme Court: First African-American Justice


Civil rights attorney Thurgood Marshall joined the Supreme Court on this day as the first African-American justice in the history of the Court. Marshall was one of the giants of the civil rights movement. He became head of the new NAACP Legal Defense Fund on October 11, 1939, and in that position was responsible for most of the important civil rights cases of his era, including most notably Brown v. Board of Education on May 17, 1954, which ruled that the principle of “separate but equal” was unconstitutional. He was also responsible for the civil rights cases that led up to Brown and cases that followed it. He was appointed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in 1961 and then as Solicitor General of the United States in 1965.

Marshall retired from the Court in 1991 after serving for 24 years, and he died in 1993. One of his former law clerks, Elena Kagan became the third woman to serve on the Court.

Read: Mark V. Tushnet, Making Civil Rights Law: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court, 1936 – 1961 (2004).

Watch a long-lost interview with Marshall: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoPLitU6jVg

Visit the Thurgood Marshall Memorial Statue, Lawyer’s Hall, Annapolis, Maryland:

Read Marshall’s FBI file: http://vault.fbi.gov/Thurgood%20Marshall

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